Blog Post

Back to School 2010 Buyer’s Guide for Apple Lovers

Stay on Top of Emerging Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

With the next school year just around the corner, we’ve put together a list of some important products that are must haves for students who are headed off to college. If you own a Mac or even just an iPhone, there’s something for you in our Back to School 2010 Buyer’s Guide.


$39 – $349 ($39 – $239 with educational discount), Apple Store

The necessity of this little gem should go without saying. Students get substantial discounts on Apple’s AppleCare protection plan, so its definitely wise to invest now for peace of mind later. AppleCare doesn’t cover accidental damage, but if you’re the type that uses your Apple gear a lot and all that wear and tear can cause some components to wear out, you’ll be covered when you need it most.

Extra Power Adapter

$29 – $79, Apple Store

From studying in the library to working out in the gym to relaxing in front of the TV, as a student you tend to move around a lot. Grab an extra power adapter for your Mac or your iPad and keep one at home and one in your bag. You’ll never end up at one place and realize you left your power adapter somewhere else.


$29.95 and up, Apple Store

Most everyone agrees that with Apple, form exists with function. See those impressed looks you get when people see you with your Apple gadgets? Keep them in good shape by investing in a good case. I recommend neoprene cases from Incase or perhaps a tough rubberized case from Speck.


$39.95 – $49.95, Twelve South

To save some space in your dorm or apartment, consider the BookArc stand by Twelve South. It’ll give your device “a home” and give it some protection at the same time. If you’re using a portable Mac or an iPad, this is a great way to free up space by elevating your device and it includes several adapters for a snug fit.

Bose In-Ear Headphones

$89.95, Apple Store

Sometimes the best time for you to study might not be the best time for others, and vice versa. Give yourself some privacy by investing in a good quality pair of headphones. In-ear headphones, like these by Bose, will give you better sound than traditional earbuds and help to block out external noise.

MiFi Hotspot

$299.99 (but free with contract, monthly fees apply), Sprint

While its pretty easy to find wi-fi access these days, occasionally you’ll find yourself in a location where there’s no internet access. If you don’t have tethering support on your iPhone, grab a MiFi mobile hotspot. It uses the cellular network to obtain a signal and then broadcasts as a wi-fi hotspot, enabling access for your Mac, iPad or any other-wifi enabled device.

Speaker Pillows

$9.99, Target

If you haven’t seen these yet, you’ll be surprised at how many different ones there are to choose from. Just like the name sounds, it’s a pillow that you can plug into your iPod, iPhone, Mac or anything else and fall asleep listening to tunes. Haven’t you always wanted to fall asleep listening to your recorded lectures? Talk about deja vu.

Flip Video UltraHD Camcorder

$199.95, Apple Store

College can be one of the most transformational seasons of your life. If you don’t have an iPhone 4, consider a Flip HD camera as a way to capture some these moments. The UltraHD camera starts at $199 for a model that comes with 4GB of storage. The Flip is staple for on-the-fly filming, so you can’t go wrong with this.

Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS Camera

$179.95, Apple Store

For those who aren’t into video, a traditional digital camera could be right for you. The Canon PowerShot SD1300 packs a whopping 12 megapixels for under $200. Best of all, it works with iPhoto or your iPad with the Camera Connection Kit. Can’t beat the opportunity to buy more Apple stuff to use your existing Apple stuff!

Apple Store & iTunes Gift Cards

Varies, Apple Store

The next time Mom sends a care package, make sure she throws in a few of these. Apple Gift Cards can be used in an Apple Retail Store or online and can be used for buying iTunes gift cards. With iTunes gift cards, you can get music, rent movies or even buy books for your classes if they’re available on the iBookstore.

What other gadgets would setup an Apple lover for college? Share your thoughts in the comments and keep a look out for our Mac, iPhone/iPod and iPad specific buyer’s guides coming soon!

13 Responses to “Back to School 2010 Buyer’s Guide for Apple Lovers”

  1. Andy Lee

    “Must haves”? Really?

    Interesting notes in the comments about MiFi alternatives. I have MiFi from Verizon and haven’t been too happy with it (this is in lower Manhattan).

  2. Honestly you recommend Bose?

    Readers – don’t waste your money on those.

    Get some Grado SR60s or Bang & Olufsen A8s and be done with it.

  3. The SINGLE thing I would class as a must-have on this list is the laptop bag. £220 for an extra 2 years defects warranty WITHOUT accident damage? I can see how this might have uses for some groups of people, but students are not one of those groups. If your mac gets damaged at uni/college then it will be because a drink spills in your bag or at a party, or you drop it, or it gets knocked off the table in a lecture, simple as that. And if that isn’t why it breaks, then you drop it anyway. This is why you insure your dorm, something that you should be paying for anyway that makes applecare irrelevant.

    Also, who is going to shell out an extra £70 for a charger when new macbook pros come with 5 or so hours of battery life (in reality) anyway? And £70 bose headphones? Most students I know are still using their shitty iphone or ipod headphones and are under the happy misconception that they’re great, a couple have cheapish sonys, and everyone else has the excellent sennheiser cx300iis which cost £50 in store but you can get for perhaps £20 whenever 7dayshop has a clearance. And a 2 year contract for mifi on the ‘offchance’ that you might need it once or twice?

    This is very out of touch with what students actually need/want. ‘a list of some important products that are must haves for students who are headed off to college’ is pretty misleading, although a solid camera is a good idea (obv. not the flip – if you really NEED a tiny usb video camera then as mentioned above the kodak playsport is much more realistic for a 3-year investment)

    • Christopher Ryan

      Thanks for your thoughts! I’d still wager that investing in an extra power adapter is pretty important and if you’ve had AppleCare save your life once (and it’s saved mine multiple times), then it’s definitely worth it.

      Still, there’s more to come in the next post, which are things that are more Mac-specific. I think you’ll find that list a bit more specific to what you’re looking for. Thanks for reading and the comments!

  4. You should really put the sprint overdrive in the mifi place. It’s the same price and same 3G data plan but you get the added benefit of unlimited 4G where there is coverage. Even if you don’t have 4G now the opportunity in the future is worthwhile especially for the same price as mifi.

    • I was actually going to recommend an alternative to the Sprint MiFi as well, but I was going to suggest a more affordable alternative.

      Virgin Mobile has a Mifi now, and it can be had for $149 with pretty affordable, pre-paid plans. I’ve been eyeing one myself since it’s basically the cheapest option for a portable hotspot, and I would only need it occasionally anyway, so I don’t really want a contract.

      Also notable is that Virgin Mobile is part of Sprint now.